Our first major expedition was to head north. The ultimate attraction was a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, but there was a chance, if our stars aligned, to incorporate two wonderful natural events.
Every year, humpback whales from Antarctica migrate to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to feed and calve between May and October. The best known place for whale watching in Queensland is Hervey Bay about 300 km north of Brisbane and definitely on the way to our reef visit.
The second great annual event takes place between November to February, when green and loggerhead turtles make their way ashore along the stretch of coast from Town of 1770 to Woodgate to lay their eggs. The beach of Mon Repos, about 15 km east of Bundaberg, is the most well-known site. It has the largest concentration of nesting turtles on the Eastern Australian mainland and is one of the two largest Loggerhead turtle rookeries in the South Pacific Ocean.
With the puppies booked in for a week's luxury accommodation, we set out on our road trip at the tail end of October, reluctantly bypassing Noosa's beaches and national park and Eumundi markets en route in the hope of catching both the whale watching and the early-bird turtles. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The weather was bad when we arrived in Hervey Bay (this was to become a theme during our travels), and the whale-watching cruise was cancelled as a result. Instead, we took the option of a day-trip to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its beaches, wildlife, forests, and freshwater lakes. It was named after Eliza Fraser, an Scottish woman, who was shipwrecked there and lived with the local Aborigines in the 1830s. These days, it is a favourite camping getaway for Queenslanders.
|Heading towards Fraser Island|
|The barnacle encrusted tiller of the Maheno shipwreck on Seventy-Five Mile Beach|
|Coloured sand outcrops|
|Eli Creek, Fraser Island|
|Native hibiscus Hibiscus tileaceus|
|Fraser Island's Lake Mackenzie|
|Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island|
|Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island|
Town of 1770 takes its name from the year Captain Cook discovered Australia, and it is the site where he first set foot on Queensland on 24 May, 1770. We had great beachside accommodation at the adjoining township of Agnes Water.
|The beach at the Town of 1770|
|Blue-Faced Honeyeater at a café in Agnes Water|
|One of the local families in Agnes Water|
|More of the mob of kangaroos|
|Mangroves at 1770|
|Approaching storm from 1770's Round Hill|
|Looking back on the rocky promontory at 1770 as we set sail on a day trip to the reef.|
If you visited my post about my mid-winter visit to Heron Island here (and its birdlife here), you may well experience a sense of deja vu. Although smaller, Lady Musgrave Island is also part of the Capricorn Bunker group of Great Barrier Reef coral cays.
|Our destination, Lady Musgrave Island|
|On the pontoon where our ship docked. The colours of the reef fish are amazing.|
|To prevent damage to the reef, the ship docks at the pontoon. Lunch and snorkelling is based from there, with small groups ferried onto the island for guided walks.|
|The expeditionary forces have landed!|
|White-capped noddy terns|
|Noddy tern on typically sad excuse for a nest - a few leaves and bird poo!|
|All the birds seemed to have chicks but covered them up protectively as we approached. Here you can catch a glimpse of the chick's downy feathers to the right of its mother.|
|Fifty shades of blue|
Finally, although just as we were a week or two late to catch the whales, we were a week or two early for the turtle laying season. I had thought it began at the start of November, but Mon Repos did not open to viewing until the 9th of November, so we sadly missed that. However, we were lucky enough to catch the event that makes the laying possible. In the lagoon at Lady Musgrave, two green turtles were mating, closely observed by a friend.
Hope you enjoyed our trip north. Next post we head to the southern state of Victoria and investigate some the beautiful scenery and wildlife there.